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Exhaust system decreases firefighters' exposure to carcinogens

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EUREKA - Firefighters are exposed to a variety of chemicals and carcinogens when fighting fires. They're also exposed to similarly harmful substances at the station itself. 

When crews leave stations, diesel exhaust fumes accumulate in the facility. Humboldt Bay Fire officials say the current system doesn't move enough air to be effective. They say sometimes it’s so bad, it builds up in the rest of the building impacting the health of all personnel and members of the public. Station 1 is the only station in the district without an exhaust extraction system, but that’s about to change.

The department will combine $100,000 in federal grant funding with $11,000 from the city to install such a system.

The extraction system connects a hose directly to the exhaust pipe of an engine and activates when it’s started. It then detaches itself as the apparatus pulls out and continues to run for a set amount of time to remove particulates, decreasing long term exposure to dangerous carcinogens.

Fire Chief Bill Gillespie said, "In a lot of places California being one of the states, cancer is presumptive for firefighters. Well, you can get it through the fire activity side of it or you can get it smelling the exhaust that comes off of the equipment we use. And so this is a method and a means for us to be able to remove it, take one more step for the health and safety of our folks."